Sparrows Sing in B Minor
Written by
Monsay Whitney
Story by
Performed by
Charlotte O’Leary

Sparrows Sing in B Minor

As adults argue over free school meals while children go hungry, SPARROWS SING IN B MINOR reflects on the pandemic through the eyes of a child.

Audio description – performed by Kayla Meikle
Story transcript

When I’m a grown up and I’m remembering back to 2020, I think what I will remember the most is being trapped in the house. All through that heat wave! During the heatwave I spent most of the days laying on the floor in my den, to stay cool. But we did go to the beach and it was amazing. And we were able to get in the sea. I took my shoes off. It was a bit stoney, but there were also patches of sand. The water was not really cold because the sun was reflecting on it. But I didn’t jump in or go properly swimming, I just paddled, because I can’t swim. We collected seaweed from the water – for our castle – and we found some nice shells. I’m glad I didn’t see any fishes in the water, that would of scared me. They might of gobbled my feet. We found a fossil at the beach, though. It was by the steps. It looks like it is made of cement. My brother thinks it is a dinosaur fossil. But I think it is probably a dead newt, because it’s a little bit smaller than a dinosaur. We’re going to find out what kind of fossil it is, from the librarian down the road, because he’s studying geology. It was a happy find.

This is Waddles. He’s a penguin. I won him in an art competition during the lockdown. My mum sent in one of my Sparrow water-colours and I won a free visit to Tillgate Nature Centre, and Waddles. I made a Sparrow fact file. I did hope to send it into Blue Peter, but I didn’t get round to it, somehow. Waddles is my favourite toy now. Usually I only hang onto toys for a few days. But Waddles has been with me ever since. He’s been with me an aw- ful lot. He comes everywhere with me, except when I go to school, but he comes every- where with me round the house. He’s a bit like a comforter, really.

My mum was very sick in February. We think she probably had Corona Virus too, because she didn’t have any taste or smell. She went to the doctor and the doctor asked her if she had been to China. She hasn’t even been out of the country! Well, she has, but not for a long, long time. And even then she didn’t go outside of Europe.

During lockdown my great-great-aunt Jean died. That’s sad, isn’t it? My mum got to go to the funeral, but we didn’t. My great-aunt Jean was being treated for Sepsis, but they think at some point she did have Covid. But they put her death down as Pneumonia, because she had two negative Covid tests. But she was ninety-two, coming up ninety-three and she always said “I’ve had my three score year and ten”… so she did do well, Jean.

There’s been some BIG changes through all this. Like my mum started online food shopping.

I think the Queen was quite shocked when all this started. I think she was worried. I think she was worried about herself, mostly, because she’s really, really old. So old. I think she’s like, ninety-four. And even though the Queen is old, even she has never experienced anything like this. She hasn’t even experienced the plague. That was bad, the plague…. I think Corona Virus is almost as deadly as the plague. I wasn’t too worried though, be- cause I knew I wouldn’t die.

I’m one of those lucky people who didn’t have their birthday in lockdown this year. We managed to get my friend round for a sleepover, but then the lockdown started again, about a week later. The playgrounds were open, sort of, and then they were shut again. But we did get to go for walks in the lockdown. And one day we bumped into a girl from nursery and a boy from Year one.

Basically, the fence panels in our garden blew down in the wind, so we could play games with our neighbours through the fence. They came up with a good game, called ‘Spin Quiz’. There’s a spinner, with letters. And these cards with questions on and you’ve got to think of a boys name with that letter, but there was lots of other different questions aswell. So that was good thing that came out of the lockdown. Oh! My best friend lives down the hill and we swapped top secret notes every week so we could stay in contact. She was the only school friend I spoke to though and I missed the others. ALOT.

I was listening to loads of High School Musical songs, because my mum’s friend, just before lockdown, he gave us a laptop and his Disney Plus account I.D. Also, we watched Zombies One on DVD. I remember when I was doing some of the dance moves to Zombies (one/two?) – bam – I whacked my head on the coffee table. You know the bit where they jump down on their knees and then they jump back up without touching the ground and the main character did it on their back! Yeah. That hurt.

My school was closed from March to September. It was me, my mum and my little brother at home, but in June we bubbled up with our neighbour and she took my brother to school, so that we didn’t have to get on the bus. My brother is in Year one, so he was back in school from June and I got to spend lots of time with my mum, on my own. When my class left school in Year three, we were given some activity books to do for Maths and English and Grammar. And my mum said I would get a pound every time I finish one! And I actually enjoy learning, so it was win win. I’m saving all the money up. I’m saving it for a house, for me and my friend to live in. Or to spend in Claire’s Accessories. I mean, I never really liked spending months off school. I love school. I love: learning, I love friends, I love school food.

Remember when we were getting the coupons? Well, they stopped at the end of the holidays. And then Marcus Rashford – Marcus Rashford is a footballer – well Marcus Rashford did a campaign to make sure the coupons carried on for the next holidays. Sometimes at school, I see the sheets for the dinner and some people need to pay the school like a hun- dred and seventy-one pounds. It’s a lot of money to eat. But I am free school meals. I dont know what would have happened if Marcus Rash ford hadn’t done that campaign, but I guess, well I s’pose that’s life, I guess.

So we came back to school in September and we managed to stay open all the way through to December. Today was the last day of school before Christmas. That’s why we put so many Christmas lights up this year: Because It’s been a bad year. But I think the community has come together more, because this year one of the Priests from the church – Reverand Betsy – is doing a Nativity play and she chose me and my brother to be Mary and Joseph and for the first time EVER I am NOT going to be a NARRATOR!!!

This year we’ve got a WhatsApp group for the area and from that lots of groups have sprung up and one of them is an Advent Window Trail, which my mum created! An Advent Window Trail is when the street decorates their windows from the first of December, twenty-four houses take part and every day each house decorates a window. We were the second house to take part, so on the second of December we decorated our window as a Christmas tree. And all that came about because we had to to get to know people because of Covid!